chess set

Chess Books

Below you will find a list of published books, links to Amazon, and samplers.

The authors

Rodolfo Pardi is an author, classified chess player, instructor and arbiter of Italian Chess Federation.
His website:
info at vecchilibri dot eu
Author page on Amazon:

Andrea Gori is an author, FIDE Candidate Master, instructor of Italian Chess Federation.
His website:
andrea.gori at fastwebnet dot it
Author page on Amazon:

Evelyne Nicod is a painter, illustrator, engraver.
Her website:
info at gatteria dot it
Author page on Amazon:


A series of short illustrated monographs, by me and by other Instructors of Scacchistica Milanese, an Italian Chess Club, who present rarely treated matters, that we think useful to the novice and club player, and essential to a good preparation.
Up till now the following have been published, in Italian unless otherwise noted, they are full of diagrams, up to the limit to keep price at 0,99 $:
To help, notation is algebraic with figurines, one of the few ebooks with this feature! RDTA C.
By clicking the title you go to Amazon description page, where you can also buy the book.
By clicking "sample" you go to some example within this book.

The following books are available in Italian only:
Chess Strategy, initial 4 lessons of a basic course, by Andrea Gori.
Chess Strategy part 2, lessons 5 to 10, by Andrea Gori.
Gocce di saggezza, many guidelines, mainly text, of no use to English speaking players.
Scacco gatto in due mosse, two short novels and many cat illustrations by Evelyne Nicod.

I libri seguenti sono in italiano:

FCP Sampler


16 Stalemate

Right, a familiar Knight's jump position (the Queen and the King at a Knight's distance from each other). It's a draw, the King is not under check and has no square to go, stalemate. If you have only the King left, do not resign, but try to reach this position. Do not lose hope because when your competitor is in time trouble, the game may result in a stalemate. I've already seen this happen.
Left, a possible position of stalemate, where the King is not in check, but it has no legal moves. This position can be reached by novice players, where the simple way of mating with Queen and King is not well known, and/or the meaning of stalemate is not fully understood.

A series of 5 patterns, each looks different, but all White's Kings control b6, the Black's King has no legal moves, stalemate. Any of these stalemates may occur while moving the King or the Queen, so, be careful!

Sample games can be seen here:  Stalemate

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Opposition Sampler


5 How to proceed

1. Rc2! Rc8 2. Rd3 Rd7 3. Rd4

White was able to reach a critical square, and with proper play is able to promote.

Easy up to here, isn't it? And would you have been able to do it? And would you have known the reason?

A possible continuation:
3. ... Rd6 4. d3 takes back one tempo Rc6 5. Re5 Rd7 6. Rd5 Rc7 7. Re6 Rd8 8. d4 Re8 9. d5 Rd8 10. Rd6 Re8 11 Rc7 Rf7 12. d6 Rf6 13. d7 Re5 14. d8D 1-0

6 Opposition

Second concept to understand, or at least remember, is Opposition.

When Kings are on squares of the same color, with only one square among them, the King which is NOT to move has the opposition. IF it's the only piece that can move, the King must move away.

But in above diagram, Black, even if not to move after Rd6, has NOT the opposition, as White can make the intermediate move 3. ... Rd6 4. d3 taking back one tempo.

Now it's White which has a real opposition, as Black is to move, ant it can only step back.

Black lost any hope, he can only step aside, and be pushed out, or step back, and White then steps forward, occupies again a critical square at two square distance from the pawn, and conquers the opposition again.

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Blackburne Shilling Sampler




Opening develops in three moves, and can be considered an independent opening: it begins as an Italian game (C50), and might lead to the Fried Liver or to other variants.

1. e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3. c4 d4!?

Black move d4 is weak, leaving unprotected pawn e5, the bait.

You could play this opening against:

- players of your level: if the bait is not swallowed, you will play a slightly weaker game, with no material disadvantage, as with any opening which you do not know.
- against much stronger players. You would lose anyway against them, here at least you have a chance.

My personal experience, proven: I classified as 3N (the lower level in Italian federation, but a success anyway) due to three games played this way in the tournament. And in three friendly games with CM, two ended in 7 moves, and in the third I won a piece.

How can this happen? the aim of the winning black sequence is the capture of pawn e5 with the Queen, difficult to see so in advance. Besides, the stronger player will under-evaluate you, and will not do long analysis at the fourth move!

A last suggestion, even if you should usually play the board and not the player; anyway wait for a couple of minutes before making your third move.

This opening it's also called "Oh my God opening" by the exclamation of Black after the move, but that's considered an unfair trick!


4. xe5?

A really strong player (not so many), does not swallow the bait and does not capture e5, but simply develops, the three best moves will be shown later. His reasoning is that your move is weak, or by mistake, and he judges he will win anyway, or willingly, and suspecting a trap, he does not see any reason to fall in the trap and lose time in finding out what this is about.

The majority of players (nearly all) captures the pawn, even if Fritz rank of this move is the 17nth.

I try often to test a player, stating that this is a trap, and I ask players of all levels what the next black move could be: the answers are random, trying everything, not one gives the right (and only) answer. What would you move as black?


4. ... g5!

When you move, I suggest you wait for a couple of minutes, not to show you know what you are doing. The result is a double attack, to the Knight in e5 and to the pawn in g2. The final aim of this move can hardly be detected, but the risk is high.
Many different replies are possible, resulting in losing one piece or even checkmate, should White not repent. The possible replies will be shown in order of danger and frequency.

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Fork Sampler


8 King fork

Simple basic patterns to be found in an endgame.
King attacks two unguarded pieces close together. Neither can move away and guard the other at the same time.
Upper right, same result if Knight in f5 is replaced by a Rook, and if King is replaced by a Bishop. Rook cannot go to f7 nor to h5 to protect the Knight, as it would be captured..

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Additional Patterns Sampler


1 Illusory pin

Also known as Phantom Pin. This definition covers several Patterns, which have in common the pin which is not real: the pinned piece is able to unpin, and often with a material gain, or can prepare a trap, where loss of material can be awesome. In the former case, many times the player is not aware of the error done, while the opponent is not aware that he can get an advantage. In the latter case instead, the trap is prepared, and even if the opponent does not fall in it, the resulting position is favorable.
Unpinning starts the sequence.

C42 Petroff defense
1. e4 e5 2. f3 f6 3. c3 d6 4. d3 e7 5. g5 ? O-O 6. d5 ?

Actually, after g5 Knight f6 in not pinned, as it can move freely with no consequence.
And Bishop g5 is in a dangerous position, as it is only apparently protected (once), while it is attacked twice ( x ray) through the Knight f6: it can be one target of a double attack.
Move d5 is a mistake, it could be an outpost if black pawn were in c5 instead than in c7, and the light-squared Bishops were exchanged, here it could be driven away by the pawn or the Bishop. The threat of a series of exchanges on f6 is meaningless.
White is going to lose one piece.

Viewed the other side around, from Black side

Clear? Isn't it?.
Black can without danger play Knight f6, with a well timed double attack. And anyway he can take advantageously and without any danger anything located on d5: a strategic square, as it also defends e7, where he can go back if the Bishop is captured.

xd5! A possible continuation:
xe7 xe7 ending a full Knight up.
exd5 xd5 that cannot be recaptured, ending a full Bishop up.
Obviously avoid in this second case the error of recapturing with the Queen xe7??, as exd5 will follow, giving back the Knight.
It's wise to always chose the right captures sequences, it's not mandatory to recapture with the piece directly threatened. A frequent evaluation error (named "counting error" by Heisman).

C00 French opening
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 c6 5. b5 d7 6. f3 ?

A similar error happens frequently in this variant of French opening, and many black players are not even aware of the possibility of gaining a pawn. Knight f3 is not protecting anything.
And again Bishop b5 is not protected, and he is attacked once through the Knight (X ray). Who, capturing on e5, can go back to d7 if necessary.

Now seen from the black side

Clear? Isn't it?
Black can without danger move his Knight c6, with an advantageous double attack. And anyway take advantageously and without any danger anything located on e5: it is a strategic square, as it is in the meantime defending square d7, where it can go back if the Bishop is captured.

xe5! A possible continuation:
xd7 xd7 ending one full pawn up.
Remember to always choose the right sequence of captures: it's not mandatory to recapture with the piece threatened. A very frequent evaluation error.
xe5 xb5 ending one full pawn up.

These positions are not even to be considered as traps, they are just unintentional errors, the cause being to have not recognized this typical Pattern.

The Pattern to remember.

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Visualization Sampler


Preliminary exercises

salto di cavallo

On an empty chessboard (it could be the above diagram on your Kindle), put a Knight on a1. Move the the Knight to go to b1.
An additional example in the following page.

un salto di cavallo

Now, bringing back the Knight to a1 each time, go to all the squares, counterclockwise and spiral wise. That is Ca1 b1, Ca1 c1, Ca1 d1, reaching all external square up to Ca1 a3, Ca1 a2. Next all internal squares: Ca1 b2, Ca1 c2, and so on till you covered all the squares, up to the central squares.
Do not try to find all the possible ways to reach a square, one is enough.
Note your TIME, using the features of your Kindle to create a note, for comparison next time. You should aim to do the complete tour in less than three minutes.

salto a ostacoli

Next, put on the board four Black's pawns as shown, which forbid access to 8 threatened squares. Do again the Knight's tour, avoiding landing on the squares where you would be captured (and also avoid to capture a pawn, like a student did).
Note your TIME. Examples in the following page.

Ca1 b1

Ca1 g1

In the last example, it might help to know that you must reach h3 before g1.
If you feel like, try blind, without a board, a CM is able to do that.

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Repertoire Sampler


How to play well the opening

Key elements to play well an opening is to know the purpose of an opening, the value of a sequence of moves and understanding typical positions, it's surely better to understand that to know by heart.

However the objectives must be established first: one situation is the young boy where the aim is to bring him at Master level with a 20 hours weekly course lasting 5 years
another situation is the Candidate Master aiming to obtain the Master norm
still another is the club player (target of this handbook) who looks for amusement, would like to win many games against players at his level, and eventually to classify.

Let us compare to scientific matters, namely mathematics: first a theorem is explained, then you are taught to apply it properly. The demonstration of the theorem, the most difficult phase, you are asked to understand it, learn it and explain it. You will forget the demonstration for the rest of your life, unless you become a teacher of that matter. But if you learn to apply it properly, it will be useful even if you are not able to explain the underlying reasons.

But while in mathematics there are laws, that is possible to demonstrate, in the Art of Chess (besides some endgame position) there are guidelines, general principles, and in commented games you find in books, the demonstration that a move stands better follows by the verification that all other moves are worst.

Therefore to play well an opening, it's essential to specialize, according to one's playing style, in two openings with White (I suggest 1. e4) and two with Black, replying to e4 and d4.
These four main lines will be studied with the help of appropriate monographs, with all variants at least up to 5 moves
For most of all other openings, know the initial 5 moves of the more probable lines, programs like Fritz will let you know the percentages, it's a waste of time to go after rare lines.

I will suggest how to choose a repertoire, remembering that there are easy openings and there are difficult opening, it was a widespread opinion about the Sicilian, that is better leave Fischer play it. You will also find here 4 complete repertoires that you can use like they are, or adapt to your own taste. Just an advice, it will take a long time to build another.

To be realistic and optimize the time dedicated to this leisure (to become professional there are full time courses that cover scientifically all aspects, theoretical knowledge and development of skill), besides training in tactics, the main factor up to class A, (tactics, tactics, and tactics), it's necessary to survive to the opening with an appropriate repertoire.

When you prepare your repertoire following a good monograph, you should identify the better moves, as established by generations of Masters, do not reinvent the wheel. If you understand the reason, so much the better, but if a move is the best, it's the best, however you put it.
The best advice you can get from this handbook, if you have established at the second move which is the best, play it! even if you don't like it. Do not think you are a wiser guy in this special occasion, you would do a weak move.

Scandinavian B01

The Scandinavian Defense or Center Counter Defense is one of the oldest recorded openings, first recorded as being played between Francesc de Castellví and Narcís Vinyoles in Valencia in 1475 in what may be the first recorded game of modern chess, and being mentioned by Lucena in 1497. It is one of the oldest asymmetric defenses to 1.e4

Played by Black answering e4: 1.e4 d5. An opening very easy to learn, leads to a pawn structure that's always the same, characterized by two semi-open files: there is no weakness, your King cannot be attacked easily, and proceeding toward the middlegame, slowly Black will increase his mobility, and will have a better play.

Best White's answer is 2. exd5; moves refusing the main line are few, giving Black the advantage of limiting theoretical study.

We will use this opening to describe the method used to build a repertoire. Next chapters will show three additional important repertoires, as the result of a complete analysis and the initial 5 answers to most common openings.

Scandinavian defense is shown by Black's point of view, therefore, as indicated in introduction, the diagrams will be seen from the black side, for easier understanding (instead of the usual view from white side).

Scandinavian in its main lines is a good weapon especially for strategic players who prefer playing quiet positions and look for initiative in later phases.
Portuguese and Icelandic variations are more fit to aggressive players.

By far one of the simplest openings for Black against 1. e4, as the pawn structure is created after two moves only. And the result is a single type of center, like no other opening, and a pawn structure consisting in a semi-open file* for each side.

Black loses one tempo* after Nc3, but the compensation is that all black pieces will have good squares to develop to. In this defense Black has no bad pieces*.

Pawn structure after e6 and c6 is very solid without weaknesses*. As in all other openings, White will have a space advantage, here with d4. However this pawn will be the target of attack by Black in the middlegame, along file d.

Another important aspect is that White has no way to attack Black's King.

It has however to be said that Black's position is slightly passive, without possibility of any early initiative. However there is no weakness, no bad pieces, no weak King side, nothing that could be attacked! And little by little the solid position will get better, while White will compromise his with unproductive actions.

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 93% Dxd5 3. d4 Cf6 4. Cc3 Dd6

In this classic variation, White, before driving away the Queen with Nc3, prefers d4, occupying the center. However even if White would prefer to attack immediately the Queen gaining one tempo, it's simply a transposition of moves. To play 3. d4 or 3. Nc3 results in the same variation.
In both events Black's plan is the following: the Queen recaptures the pawn and the is compelled to go back or to be chased around the board. Therefore we prefer for White the following modern variation, the Knight move at move 3.

Modern System, a first elementary tabia

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Dxd5 3. Cc3 attacking immediately the Queen Dd6 { Black's plan: Cf6, c6, Af5, e6, Cbd7, 0-0, Tfd8} 4. d4 Cf6 5. Ae3
(5. Cge2 )
(5. Ae2 c6 )
(5. Ad3 )
(5. Ag5 Cc6 )
(5. Ac4 c6 6. Cge2 Af5 7. Af4 Db4 )
5... a6 6. Dd2 b5 7. Ad3 Ab7 8. f3 )
(3. Cf3 Cf6 {transposing to all other variants }

White can choose many moves, but the same structure will be obtained, therefore we will consider the main variant.

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Dxd5 3. d4 Cf6
(3... Cc6 {!? only a short initiative })
4. Cc3
(4. c4 Dd8 5. Cf3 { main line } g6 6. Cc3 Ag7 7. Ae2 O-O 8. O-O c6 9.h3 h6 )
4... Dd6

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Defensive Sampler

You might be one piece down for several reasons, what will you do, resign? In a blitz game I saw stalemate the opponent while having two Queens and a pawn against a lonely King, so let's consider the situation before resigning.

Sometimes chess players resign a position which is not lost. Moreover, there are some examples where a game was resigned in a completely winning position!

A Sample game can be seen here, where Black resigned in a winning position:  Resign

There are many reasons for being a piece down:
1) willingly. You do like, as I do, aggressive games, so gambit lines are preferred, you give a pawn and as compensation you have better development and the initiative. You are not scared, as you are used to play this way, but if your game is slowing down, the opponent exchanges a piece after another, all of a sudden you find yourself in the endgame one pawn down, fighting for a draw.
2) with your great surprise, you took a bait, and found yourself a piece down following an opening trap you were not aware of.
3) as the result of a tactic
4) as an error of visualization during a sequence of captures, at your surprise on the board some piece is missing, that should be there
5) what remains after an unsound sacrifice
6) a plain blunder, you left a piece unprotected, or worst you gave it freely away
7) worst of all, you are outperformed by your opponent in a long strategic sequence of small disadvantages, till your pieces have no mobility, and finish trapped

What will you do, hang down your head and cry?

In this handbook you will find the correct approach to (try to) save the game: some guidelines, some techniques, some examples. Remember, never give up!

1 Gambits

You are a gambiteer who likes the fun and the stress. Better study well your gambits and play aggressively, once your opponent did exchange a couple of pieces and castled, you'll better know the other chapters of this handbook.

Two gambits will be shown, one for White, the Morra gambit, and one for Black, the Budapest Gambit, both accepted and declined.

They come from other books of mine, where the purpose was different. If you already know everything about them, just skip this section, there's enough additional material.

Morra Gambit B21

Basic tabia

Even if the name comes from the French player who used to play around 1950, this Gambit was played by Blackburne in 1870. It's an opening full of tricks, resulting in a fast win when Black is not prepared.
The idea (as most of similar gambits) is to sacrifice a pawn to speed up development before an attack to the opponent's King.
It's a weapon against the Sicilian often plaid by strong players, or to somebody trying to emulate Fischer.

Opening theory is limited to less than 10 main lines
You and not Black will decide the opening line
You will likely take your opponent to uncharted territory
You will play in your field
Many chances of complications and sacrifices.

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3
DELAYED, not to reveal your intentions 3. Cf3 e5 4. c3 dxc3 5. Cxc3 d6 6. Ac4 Cc6 7. Db3 Dd7
DECLINED 3... d3 4. c4 {no haste to capture pawn c, a Maroczy bind is obtained} Cf6 5. Cc3 d6 6. Axd3 e6 7. Cf3 Cbd7 8. O-O Ae7 9. b3 O-O 10. Ab2 a6 11. Tc1 b6
DECLINED 3. ... Cf6 4. e5 Cd5 transposition to Alapin

From now on you must attack, otherwise you will finish one pawn down.

Budapest Gambit (BG) D30

offering to play the BG

A usual suggestion is to play the board and not the player, but this is true only at higher levels of play.
While you will find White players move 1. e4 or other strange first moves when they are at an intermediate level, when they are at expert level or above the most probable first move you will meet will be 1. d4 , less dangerous and more positional.
Many replies to 1. d4 are available, and we assume that your opponent has a greater rating.
If he's much stronger than you and you reply d5, he will destroy you; because he has a greater theoretical knowledge than you, and surely he knows all the main and minor variations up to the tenth move.

You'd better move 1. ... Cf6 , which is more flexible, in the sense that you haven't still declared your intentions. You haven't committed yourself yet, it could be a delayed Queen Gambit, you could lead to a Trompowsky, in any way you force your opponent to think.
If he continues along this path, 2. c4, then you play 2. ... e5, the centenary Budapest Gambit. Actually it's not a gambit proper, as you get back the pawn; it becomes an open game, full of tactics which can embarrass who does not know it well. But one cannot study everything.
My experience and that of many Masters is that it is much better to play an opening considered slightly inferior, but well known, compared to an opening believed sounder, where you do not know the development when theory ends.

1. d4 Cf6 2. c4 e5 . Previous diagram. Black sacrifices a pawn to open the game and get an advantage in development.
According to the main line the pawn will be regained later.


We assume your opponent has more pieces and you are trying to draw. In the combinations shown, sometimes having the move may decide the outcome, good or bad.

Mind : unactive links

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Lined up Pieces Sampler

1 Bishop Queen King

In this tactic the Bishop attacks Queen and King lined up, the result being in any case the capture of the Queen.

According to the reciprocal positions, it's named, from left to right, pin, skewer, fork.

In the middle diagram, with Black to move, the black King is skewered by the white Bishop. This is an absolute skewer, because the rules of chess compel Black to get out of check (if possible). After Black chooses one of the handful of legal moves available, White will capture the black queen.

Because the skewer is a direct attack upon the more valuable piece, it is generally a much more powerful and effective tactic than the pin. The victim of a skewer often cannot avoid losing material (though it may be possible if, for example, either piece can give check, thereby forcing the skewering side to move out of check instead of being able to capture either piece, or if it is possible to move a less valuable piece in the way); the only question is which material will be lost. The skewer occurs less often than the pin in actual play. When it does occur, however, it is often decisive.

In the pin and the fork the Bishop must be supported. The opponent may capture the Bishop with the Queen which will be recaptured, or try some other tactic; anyway the Queen can move only along the diagonal and is not protecting anything.

These patterns do not just happen, but must be prepared, a general strategy being to force the opponent's pieces into position for subsequent tactic.

1.1 Elephant trap

The Elephant Trap is a faulty attempt by White to win a pawn in a popular variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined.
This simple trap has snared thousands of players, generally amateurs.
The earliest recorded occurrence of the trap seems to be Karl Mayet vs. Daniel Harrwitz, Berlin 1848.

The trap 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Cc3 Cf6 4. Ag5 Cbd7
In our days this opening sequence usually indicates that Black intends to play the Cambridge Springs Defense with 5.Cf3 c6 6.e3 Da5, but it can also lead to the Orthodox Defense if Black plays ...Ae7.
5. cxd5 Black has set a trap with exd5 6. Cxd5?? White thinks that the black knight on f6 is pinned to the queen and cannot be moved.
6... Cxd5! 7. Axd8 Ab4+ (diagram above)
Black regains the queen as White has only one legal move to get out of check. 8. Dd2 Axd2+ 9. Rxd2 Rxd8
Harrwitz played the equally good 8...Rxd8, intending 9...Axd2+

In this case the Bishop is defended, but that's not necessary if it checks the King which has no escape square.

You can play through this game and download the PGN here:

1.2 Pinned Queen

Dd7 forced, 1-0

You can play through similar games and download the PGN here:

This diagram shows a typical position where the a4-e8 diagonal is opened, and the White's Bishop giving check obliges the Queen to interpose and be pinned and be lost, as the Knight and Bishops are not in their initial squares, and cannot interpose (as it did happen in the Elephant trap above).

1.3 Forked Queen

Next move Ae4+ forking King and Queen

You can play through this and other similar games and download the PGN here:

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Stratecic Patterns Sampler


1.8 Bringing out the Queen

Black to move after 5. b3 ?

Do not bring out your Queen too soon.

Usually a beginner tries the Scholar Mate when playing against another beginner, don't do that, he might know better than you!

Here he succeeds: Fool's Mate

Here he is punished (should your visualization not be enough, use a chessboard to follow the moves):
1. e4 e5 2. h5? Threatening e5 c6 protects e5 3. c4 attacks f7, the weakest square protected only by the King, threatening the Scholar mate.
Algebraic notation: "?" is a weak move, an error
To avoid the mate: 3. ... g6 attacking the Queen 4. f3 again a mate threat on f7 f6 interposing 5. b3 ? the Queen aligns to the Bishop, still to threaten the capture of f7, this time by the Bishop.

White developed the Queen too early and goes on moving the same piece, worsening his game. While Black developed correctly.

5. ... d4!
Algebraic notation: "!" is a good move
White cannot play 6. xf7+, as after 6. ... e7 7. c4 b5! 8. c5+ d6 he would lose a piece with no compensation.

6. c3 d5! 7. xd5 xd5 8. exd5 f5 9. d3 b4!
Tactic: skewer Queen-King
Tactic: deviation 10. xb4 xc2+ con
Tactic: forking King and Queen. White resigns.

While the teaching manual of the Italian Chess Federation considers the above a demonstration of the error of bringing out the Queen early, as any decent chess manual will do, however the following Wikipedia page calls this "The Wayward Queen Attack ECO C20 (also known as the Parham Attack, Danvers Attack, Patzer Opening, Queen Kiddy, or Queen's Excursion)". Despite its amateurish appearance, the Wayward Queen Attack was played in two grandmaster (GM) tournament games in 2005. As White I would stick to the approved guideline, and keep the Queen quiet for a while.

A sample game can be seen here: Wayward

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Evelyne Nicod's Biography

Meet the artistic and whimsical cats of Evelyne Nicod

Published in CAT COLLECTORS (USA), August-September 1992, pages 4-5
Text: Evelyne Nicod
Translation revision: Marilyn Dipboye
Illustrations: © Evelyne Nicod
All rights reserved

I was born in France, March 17,1942. When I discovered that the art world would be where I would find my career, I began my studies, first in the Fine Art school in Besançon (France), then in Vevey (Switzerland) and one year in London at the Saint Martin School of Art. Later, I married in Italy and started working as a professional painter in Milano. It was there that I became interested in etching and knew that I had found my technique.

It takes years of hard work to get a decent result, to understand the sensibility of a line on a zinc plate, the acid action, the printing and the thousand tricks to improve. I know I will never stop learning and it is the reason why it is so fascinating.

The real problem is the acid. I use a very slow one to control the process, etching the plate five or six times (or more) to get the very light and very deep contrasts. It requires a good concentration. I print every plate myself on my dear old press.

For printing I use a technique called " poupèe " , which means all the color shades on a single plate. It is very slow but the result is very personal. I make a black and white copy to see the contrast and two copies for the research of color; after that I start the definitive printing, making 50 prints for each plate. To draw a plate 13 " x 20 " takes me three months; then two days for etching in acid, and each print requires about 3/4 of an hour to ink. What I like in this art form is the freedom to obtain almost anything I fancy. The best (or the worst) is when I try my first print. The tension is high!

I had a marvelous grandmother; she loved flowers, plants, animals and especially cats. I was very fond of her. I grew up caring for many of the things dear to her heart.
My husband and I, too, are dedicated cat fans. We live with two tabby cats on Lake Garda in a charming old, old village. We used to live in Milano (population 2 million) and when we arrived here my cat " Ciccia " (fatty!) discovered grass, trees, a big garden and a large house. At that time she was six years old and had become adapted to a small urban flat: so, for a month she hid under the bed. When her curiosity overcame her fear, she came out from hiding. She soon adored her new home - delighting in the smell of the fresh morning dew and in chasing the poor little birds (which I didn't enjoy at all)
About 10 years ago I began to draw only cats. I sketched a lot of funny situations where cats were great stars. It was just a game, but I began to enjoy the subject more and more and finally settled on doing just cats
My two felines, Ciccia (now 10 years old), and Gherson (4 months) are fun to watch and they inspire me. Ciccia hates the intruder Gherson and believes we are horrible to stand this little monster. Gherson doesn't care at all and loves us. He is very lively and sweet (for the moment, as he is quick to learn). One thing, it is never boring living with them. It is something different all the time, except for the food ceremony, which is three times a day and they pretend full attention. I mean really full!

Illustrations: Tarot card, T-shirt, postcard, writing paper, photo

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